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'Divine' last arrow gives S. Korea gold

August 20, 2004 22:44 IST
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South Korea's all-conquering women archers won their 11th straight Olympic gold medal on Friday but it took a "divine" bullseye on the final arrow to beat China in the Athens teams event final.

In a 27-arrow shootout, individual gold medallist Park Sung-hyun fired a maximum 10-point score with the last shot to clinch the title 241-240.

"Do you know if I aimed for a 10, I am sure I would not have got 10," said the Olympic individual gold medallist. "I resigned myself to the divine will, and then I was calmed down.

"I didn't see my last arrow's score, I just looked behind me and saw that my team mate Yun (Mi-jin) was celebrating. It was only then that I realised that we had won the gold medal."

Lee Sung-jin, who fired two wayward seven-point shots to allow China to make a late challenge, screamed with relief when Park made the score and later wept with joy.

"It crossed my mind, what happens if my team loses only because of my fault," said Lee, at 19 the youngest member of the team.

"But at the same time I trusted my sisters and when we won it, I cried out," said the Athens individual silver medallist.

Korea's women have won every individual and team gold medal they have ever contested since first competing in archery at the Games in 1984 -- a feat unmatched in any other sport. The team event was introduced at their home Games in 1988.

But even the Koreans were not expecting to be pushed so hard by the Chinese.

"In previous competitions we always thought there was a distance between China and Korea, but as we have shown today we have a determination to win," said China's He Ying.

"The difference now is only one point so we are pretty confident the next time we will have a better result."

Taiwan took the bronze medal after beating France by 14 points in a shootout for third place.


Fittingly, for one of the Games' greatest sporting dynasties the Koreans were crowned champions at one of sport's most heralded venues, the marble home of the first modern Games in 1896, the Panathinaiko Stadium.

In a rare show of emotion from the steely Koreans, the trio acknowledged their small band of vocal, flag-waving supporters by linking arms, kneeling and bowing on the artificial turf.

China trailed by four points with seven shots to go, but fought back to narrow the difference to a single point with an arrow to go.

But Park held her nerve and hit the golden centre of the target, and raised her fists in the air in triumph.

"I promised my parents before I came here that I would achieve something good in the Olympics and I did it," said a relieved Lee, who wept on the podium.

For Yun, the victory brought a third gold to go with individual and team ones she took in Sydney four years ago.

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